The Priority of Heaven
Rev 4:1 John tells us that a door is set opened in heaven
This is one of four doors opened in the book of Revelation
- Revelation 3:8 – The open door of opportunity for giving out the Word of God
- Revelation 3:20 – The open door of the heart to fellowship with Christ
- Revelation 4:1 – The open door to heaven
- Revelation 19:11 – The open door of the Second Coming
But the first destination that John mentions after the Rapture is heaven
THE PERSPECTIVE OF HEAVEN
Revelation 4:2 (NKJV)
"Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne."
Immediately I was in the Spirit – speaking of a split second of time – one of the characteristics of the Rapture of the Church
- 1 Corinthians 15:51-52 says in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye.
- It is believed that a twinkling of an eye is 1/1000 of a second
- That’s how quick the Rapture will be
- John is immediately in the Spirit
Behold a throne set in heaven and one sitting on the throne
- Notice the first thing John sees in God the Father seated on the throne in heaven
- How do we know this is God the Father
- Rev 4:5 – the Holy Spirit is distinguished
- Rev 5:6 – Jesus is seen standing beside the throne
- How interesting the perspective of heaven
- 38 times the throne of God is mentioned in the Book of Revelation
- 17 times in chapter 4 and 5
- While the world is enduring the Great Tribulation, God is seated on the throne
- This is the central focus for the believer… the rule and reign of God through out history
Billy Graham said…
“God is unchanging in His love. He loves you. He has a plan for your life. Don't let the newspaper headlines frighten you. God is still sovereign; He's still on the throne.
TRUTH: God has never been dethroned
Psalm 11:4 (NKJV)
"The LORD is in His holy temple,
The LORD’s throne is in heaven;
His eyes behold,
His eyelids test the sons of men."
At this moment in history, we are in the age of Grace and the Lord’s throne is now the throne of grace
Hebrews 4:16 (NKJV)
"Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
But the throne of grace will become a throne of judgment after the Rapture of the Church
John continues to describe heaven
Revelation 4:3–5 (NKJV)
"And He who sat there was like a jasper and a sardius stone in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, in appearance like an emerald. 4 Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God."
Mark Twain in the Adventures of Huckleberry Finn describes heaven as a place where… all a body would have to do there was go around all day long with a harp and sing forever and ever.
But the Bible speaks heaven three ways or as having three levels
- The first heaven – refers to the atmosphere, the skies above the earth where birds fly, clouds float, where we get rain, snow and dew
- Isaiah 55:10 (NKJV)
“For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
- The second heaven – refers to the universe, outer space, the place where the sun, moon and stars reside
- Psalm 8:3 (NKJV)
"When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,"
- The third heaven – refers to the dwelling place of God, where God resides, where He is enthroned, the place where He renders judgment and from which blessings flow
- Isaiah 66:1 (NKJV)
"Thus says the LORD:
“Heaven is My throne, /
And earth is My footstool.
Where is the house that you will build Me?
And where is the place of My rest?"
- Through technology we can see the first and second heaven
- But the only way we can see the third heaven is by revelation
- What is significant about the third heaven is the Presence of God
THE PRESENCE OF HEAVEN
How does John describe God’s Presence?
- He describes it in terms of beautifully colored light – jasper, sardius and an emerald rainbow
- You couldn’t see the One sitting on the throne… all you could see is the light the emanates from the throne
Psalm 104:2 (NKJV)
"Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment,
Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain."
Jasper was the last stone identified in the breastplate of the high priest (Exodus 28:20)
- It was first in the foundation of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:19)
- It was a many-colored stone with purple predominating
- Some identify it as a diamond
- It’s the only stone linked with the Glory of God (Rev. 21:11)
Sardius is the sixth stone in the foundation of the New Jerusalem (Rev. 21:20)
- It’s the first stone in the breastplate of the High Priest
- It’s color is fiery red
Around the throne is an emerald rainbow… like a giant green halo surrounding God
- Imagine this picture!!!
- The throne of God, this light emanating from the throne, the stones intensifying the light around the throne by reflecting the unapproachable brightness referred to as the glory of God
At our church memorial barbeque, an old friend came to visit. He told Roxie and I that he died for several minutes. Roxie asked him, did you see the light? He said he did see a tunnel of warm bright light
- That is the glory of God that surrounds God Himself
THE WORSHIP OF HEAVEN
Revelation 4:4–8 (NKJV)
"Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and on the thrones I saw twenty-four elders sitting, clothed in white robes; and they had crowns of gold on their heads. 5 And from the throne proceeded lightnings, thunderings, and voices. Seven lamps of fire were burning before the throne, which are the seven Spirits of God.
"Before the throne there was a sea of glass, like crystal. And in the midst of the throne, and around the throne, were four living creatures full of eyes in front and in back. 7 The first living creature was like a lion, the second living creature like a calf, the third living creature had a face like a man, and the fourth living creature was like a flying eagle. 8 The four living creatures, each having six wings, were full of eyes around and within. And they do not rest day or night, saying:
“Holy, holy, holy,
Lord God Almighty,
Who was and is and is to come!”"
What an amazing description of heaven!!!
- John’s describes heaven the same way that Ezekiel described heaven in Ezekiel 1
- He describes heaven the same way that Isaiah described heaven in Isaiah 6
- There are these 24 thrones with 24 elders representing the 24 elders appointed by King David to represent the entire Levitical priesthood in 1 Chronicles 24
- David divided the priests into twenty four courses, each course to serve for two weeks at a time in the temple which Solomon was to build
- The priests numbered into the thousands – they could not all come together at one time
- But when they met in the temple precincts in Jerusalem – the whole priestly house was represented
- Elders is translated representative
1 Peter 2:9 (NKJV)
"But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;"
The 24 elders represent the entire royal priesthood gathered together
- All the redeemed who were, who are and who are to come
- There were 12 Patriarchs in the O.T. and 12 Apostles in the N.T.
- On their heads are crowns of gold… literally the victor’s crown
- The seven lamps of fire – representing the completed Church ablaze – on fire
- The seven Spirits of God – representing the completed work of the Holy Spirit
- We see a crystal sea – representing the Word of God, firm and glorious, on which the people of God can stand eternally
In the midst of the throne – these four living creatures with the face of a lion, a calf, a man and an eagle representing the fullness of Christ –
- The Lion represents Jesus as the King
- This is the depiction of Christ in the gospel of Matthew
- He was born a King
- He lived a King
- He died a King
- He was raised a King
- And He is coming again as a King
- The Calf or Ox represents Jesus as the servant
- This is the depiction of Christ in the gospel of Mark
- The Servant of God
- The face as a man represents Jesus as the Son of Man
- This is the depiction of Christ in the gospel of Luke
- God became flesh and walked among us
- The flying eagle represents Jesus as the Son of God
- This is the depiction of Christ in the gospel of John
- In the beginning was the Word and the Word was God.
The flying creatures with six wings –
- two covering their feet (representing reverence),
- two covering their eyes (representing holiness) and
- two to fly with
- Cherubim and Seraphim who do not rest but declare…
- This matches the vision that Isaiah saw in Isaiah 6:3
- Holy, Holy, Holy (three times Holy – speaking of the exponential nature of His holiness), Lord God Almighty
- Who was and is and is to come – referring the Jesus Christ as He referred to Himself in Rev. 1:8 when He said…
Revelation 1:8 (NKJV)
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” says the Lord, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Now… it would be easy to dig in and examine the deep symbolic meaning of every aspect of John’s description of heaven
- You could talk about a rainbow and how a rainbow is caused by sunlight as it travels through little droplets of light that literally cause the light to be divided into seven colors…
- each color determined by the speed or frequency of the wavelength.
- Higher frequencies of wavelengths are broken into light,
- lower frequencies of wavelengths become sound and
- slower frequencies of wavelengths become matter…
- and we can derive symbolic meaning from the seven colors of the rainbow and how it correspond with the glory of God…
- But I want you to note the response of Heaven…
Revelation 4:9–11 (NKJV)
"Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying:
“You are worthy, O Lord,
To receive glory and honor and power;
For You created all things,
And by Your will they exist and were created.”"
The Living Creatures, the 24 elders all fall down and worship!!!
- John sees this glorious vision of heaven and He is speechless
- Worship isn’t the first priority of the Church, it is the only priority of the Church!!!
- Everything that happens in the Church is an expression of Worship
- Teaching is applying God’s Word to people’s lives so they can be free to Worship
- Pastoring is applying God’s love to people’s lives so they can be free to Worship
- Evangelism is delivering people from darkness to light so they can be free to Worship
- Prophecy is declaring God’s Word to people so they can decide to Worship
- Apostleship is giving birth to new works of God so there are more opportunities to Worship
- All creation was created to Worship
- It is the purpose for creation and the priority of heaven
Catch the rhythm of worship that is happening in heaven
- The Four Living Creatures do not rest day or night saying… Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
- Whenever the Four and Living Creatures give thanks to Him who sits on the throne the 24 elders fall down and worship Him saying…
- You are worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor and power.
- How often are the Four Living Creatures saying… Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty? Day and Night, without rest
- If the 24 elders fall down and worship every time the Four Living Creatures give thanks… how often are the 24 elders falling down and giving thanks? Day and Night, without rest
- That means heaven is a continual cycle of Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty… Thou Are Worthy O Lord to receive glory and honor and power… Holy, Holy, Holy… Thou Art Worthy… Holy, Holy, Holy
- If this is what heaven is like… now interpret 1 Thess. 5:16-18 in view of this
1 Thessalonians 5:16–18 (NKJV)
"Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."
There is a culture of prayer and worship that permeates heaven and that culture is the same culture that permeates the life of the believer
Catch the heart of worship that is happening in heaven
- The Four Living Creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne
- They worship Him for His attributes… Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty
- The 24 Elders worship Him not only because of His attributes, but also for what He’s done
- You are worthy to receive glory, honor and power because you are the Creator of all things
- They respond three ways… they fall down, they worship, they throw their crowns at His feet
- To fall down before another King was an admission of defeat
- To worship is an act of adoration
- To throw your crowns down was an act of surrender
- That is the essence of worship… We recognize that we have been defeated, that God’s love has won our hearts, because He has won our hearts we adore Him and because we adore Him we willingly surrender to Him